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Vegas Rookie Faceoff: 6 Team NHL Rookie Tournament Coming To City National Arena

The biggest event in City National Arena history starts on September 8th. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen) 

The Golden Knights practice facility, City National Arena will host a six-team, three-day “tournament” featuring top NHL prospects. The six teams participating are the Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. It’s being called the Vegas Rookie Faceoff.

Each team will play three games with all nine games being held at City National Arena. Games will be played on September 8th, 9th, and 11th with the Golden Knights rookies taking on the Avalanche, Sharks, and Kings.

Here’s the full schedule for the event.

Saturday, Sept. 8
Game 1 – ARI vs. SJS, 3 p.m. PT
Game 2 – LAK vs. ANA, 5 p.m. PT
Game 3 – COL vs. VGK, 7 p.m. PT

Sunday, Sept. 9
Game 1 – LAK vs. ARI, 3 p.m. PT
Game 2 – COL vs. ANA, 5 p.m. PT
Game 3 – VGK vs. SJS, 7 p.m. PT

Tuesday, Sept. 11
Game 1 – ANA vs. ARI, 11 a.m. PT
Game 2 – SJS vs. COL, 11:30 a.m. PT
Game 3 – LAK vs. VGK, 2:30 p.m. PT

Rookie tournaments are fairly common in the NHL as they offer a chance for teams to play games against different opponents in a short period of time without having to travel. The Red Wings have hosted a tournament in Traverse City, MI for the past 20 years and includes eight teams. Toronto and Buffalo host similar tournaments as well.

Last year the Golden Knights traveled to El Segundo to play a pair of rookie games against the Los Angeles Kings.

Ticket information has not yet been released for the Vegas Rookie Faceoff. However, fans interested in tickets can fill out this contact form to be alerted when they are available.

The games are expected to be available either on TV and/or via Internet stream, but details have not been announced at this point.

These games will be an excellent opportunity for fans to see Golden Knights top prospects, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, and Nic Hague. Plus, the 5th overall pick from 2018, Barrett Hayton (ARI), the 4th overall pick from 2017, Cale Makar (COL) and the 3rd overall pick from 2015, Dylan Strome (ARI) are expected to participate. Other top prospects like Gabe Vilardi (LAK), Kale Clague (LAK), Sam Steel (ANA), Vladislav Kamenev (COL), Conor Timmins (COL), and Ryan Merkley (SJS) should all play as well.

Hopefully, the Vegas Rookie Faceoff becomes an annual thing because it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

“Have To Be Able To Skate, First And Foremost”

All eyes tend to be focused on the Expansion Draft, and for good reason, but there’s another draft two days later that will probably be more influential on the long term success of the Golden Knights.

The NHL Entry Draft on June 23rd and 24th in Chicago will be crucial for George McPhee and his staff if they want to stay on track of The Creator’s “playoffs in three, Cup in six” mantra.

Vegas slipped to 6th overall in the first round, but still maintain the 3rd selection in all subsequent rounds. Plus, with the Expansion Draft before the Entry Draft, it’s almost a guarantee the Golden Knights will be on the clock more than just the seven times they are slated for today.

With the benefit of being able to watch players throughout the entire season and the  knowledge of knowing the Golden Knights will pick among the top six, Vegas scouts should have a pretty good idea what type of player they are looking to make the first draft selection in franchise history.

You have to be able to skate, first and foremost, because you have to play at a pace that seems to get higher and higher every season. These young players are making plays at such great speed, so you have to be able to skate. You need to have the sense and feel for the game. It’s that combination of speed, skill and sense, in addition to having a willingness to compete on a nightly basis, that are important. –Scott Luce, Director of Amateur Scouting

Seems obvious, until you take a look at some of the flaws of a few of the top prospects in this year’s Entry Draft.

Gabe Vilardi (C), the Memorial Cup starlet from the Windsor Spitfires, who The Hockey News has ranked as the 3rd overall, admittedly needs to improve his skating.

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McPhee Draft History Shows Positional Preference In First Round

As GM of the Capitals, George McPhee selected prospects in 17 Entry Drafts. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and yes, even Filip Forsberg, were McPhee’s top picks. The GM has a strong draft history which must continue if he’s going to find success in Vegas. With Washington, McPhee was able to collect extra picks and ended up with a total of 20 first round picks over 17 seasons. A strategy almost certainly be used with the Golden Knights.  The question is, will he go the same route positionally as he did in Washington.

YearRoundPick (Overall)PlayerPosition
199719thNick BoyntonD
1998249thJomar CruzG
199917thKris BeechC
2000126thBrian SutherbyC
2001258thNathan PaetschD
2002112thSteve EmingerD
2002113thAlex SeminRW
2002117thBoyd GordonC
2003118thEric FehrRW
200411stAlexander OvechkinLW
2005114thSasha PokulokD
2005127thJoe FinleyD
200514thNicklas BackstromC
2005123rdSemyon VarlamovG
200715thKarl AlznerD
2008121stAnton GustafssonC
2008127thJohn CarlsonD
2009124thMarcus JohanssonC
2010126thEvgeny KuznetsovC
20114117thSteffen SobergG
2012111thFilip ForsbergC
2012116thTom WilsonRW
2013123rdAndre BurakovskyLW

Based off past draft results, McPhee, like most NHL general managers, prefer to select centers (8 of 20 1st round picks) early in the draft. According to most analysts, the first round of this year’s entry draft could feature many young centers.

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